Excerpt: Antonides’ Forbidden Wife
Book 6: Beware of Greeks Series
“Mrs. Antonides is here to see you.”
PJ Antonides’s head jerked up at the sound of his assistant, Rosie’s, voice coming from the open doorway. He leaned his elbows on his desk and pinched the bridge of his nose in an attempt to hold off the headache that had been threatening all afternoon.
It had been a hellish day. Murphy’s Law had been written expressly for days like this. It was only two in the afternoon, but as far as he could see, anything that could go wrong, already had.
As the head of Antonides Marine since his brother Elias had, literally and figuratively, jumped ship two years ago, PJ was no stranger to bad days. He’d stepped into the job willingly enough, could never complain that he hadn’t known what he was getting into. He had known. And oddly he relished it.
But there were days – like today – when memories of his carefree years of Hawaiian sand and surf were all too appealing.
Mostly the good days more than balanced out the bad. For every disaster there was usually a bright spot. When something fell apart, something else worked out. Not today.
The fabric supplier for the sail of his own design of wind-surfers had rung this morning to regret that they couldn’t fulfill the order. A Japanese hardware firm who had been trying to track down a missing shipment reported cheerfully that it had never left Yokohama. And his father, Aeolus, had called to say he was flying in from Athens tonight and bringing house guests for the week.
“Ari and Sophia Cristopolous – and their daughter, Constantina. More beautiful than ever. Single. Smart. She’s dying to meet you. We are expecting you out at the house for the weekend.”
Subtle, Aeolus was not. And he never stopped trying even he knew – PJ had told him often enough! – that there was no point.
A trickle of perspiration slid down the back of PJ’s neck.
Not that he wasn’t sweating anyway. The air conditioning in the building hadn’t been working when they’d arrived this morning. The repairmen had left for lunch two hours ago and no one had seen them since. Everyone was sweltering in the July heat and humidity. The latest temp girl had gone home sick because she couldn’t stand the heat. An hour ago, PJ’s computer had stopped typing the letter A. Half an hour ago it had flat out died. He was back to calculating requisitions with a pencil and paper.
The last thing he needed right now was a visit from his mother.
“Tell her I’m busy,” he said gruffly. “Wait. Tell her I’m busy but that I’ll be there Friday for dinner.”
Agreeing ahead of time to the inevitable dinner invitation – even though it meant meeting Ari and Sophia and their beautiful daughter – was a sure fire way to prevent Helena Antonides from demanding to see him this afternoon.
“I don’t believe she asked, ” Rosie said doubtfully.
“She will. My mother always asks.” In his thirty-two years on the planet, PJ couldn’t remember a weekend that Helena Antonides hadn’t demanded the presence of all of her children within a hundred miles. It was why he’d headed for Hawaii right after high school and hadn’t come back until two years ago.
“This isn’t your mother.”
He blinked at Rosie. “Not -?” He brightened and took a deep relieved breath. “Oh, well, if it’s Tallie – “
PJ had no problem with seeing his sister-in-law whenever she chose to drop in. His older brother Elias’s wife was still on the governing board of Antonides Marine and, as far as PJ was concerned, she was always welcome. She had good ideas, and she didn’t meddle.
She didn’t have time. While she had once been a hard working full time CEO, now she was a hard-working full-time mother. She and Elias had year and a half old twins: Nicholas and Garrett.
PJ brightened further at the idea that she might have brought his nephews to visit. They were a handful and a half, but he was always delighted to see them. But, he reflected, he didn’t hear the sound of anything breaking in the outer office, so he supposed she must have come alone.
No matter. He was always glad to have a visit from Tallie.
But Rosie was shaking her head. “Did you forget? Tallie and Elias and the boys are in Santorini.”
Oh, hell, yes. He’d forgotten.
Good grief! Surely it wasn’t his grandmother! Yiayia was ninety-three, for heaven’s sake.
She was hale and hearty, but she didn’t travel to Brooklyn on a momentary whim. On the contrary, since her ninetieth birthday, she had expected the world to come to her.
“Don’t tell me Yiayia is out there,” PJ muttered. But stranger things had happened. And she had been on his case recently.
“You’re old,” she’d said, shaking a disapproving finger at him last month when he’d seen her at his parents’ house on Long Island.
“I’m not old,” PJ had protested. “You’re the one who’s old!”
Yiayia had sniffed. “I already had my children. I want babies around. You will need to give me great-grandchildren.”
“You have great-grandchildren,” PJ told her firmly. “Four of them.” Besides Elias’s twins, there was Cristina’s Alex and Martha’s Edward. And Martha had another one on the way.
Yiayia had sniffed. “They are good,” she admitted. “But I want handsome babies like yourself, Petros mou. It’s time.”
PJ knew what she meant, but resolutely he had shaken his head. “Forget it, Yiayia. Not going to happen.” Or the chances were a million to one that it would.
“Forget it,” he said again.
But he could tell from her narrowed gaze and pursed lips that his grandmother hadn’t forgotten what he’d told her last year. And he began to regret sharing his plan with her. Surely she hadn’t decided to bring the battle to Brooklyn.
“Not your grandmother,” Rosie confirmed.
“I don’t know any other Mrs Antonideses,” PJ told her irritably.
“That’s interesting,” Rosie said, looking at him speculatively, her dark eyes wide as her gaze flicked from him back through the open door toward the outer office beyond. “This one says that she’s your wife.”